Interview with Armageddon Roxx guitarist Sam Tamberelli

INTERVIEW WITH ARMAGEDDON ROXX GUITARIST SAM TAMBERELLI
Date: March 10, 2017
Interviewer: Olivier

CANADIAN GUITARIST SAM TAMBERELLI’S ABILITY TO GET HIS PROJECT ARMAGEDDON ROXX OFF THE GROUND IS A STORY OF PERSEVERANCE IN NOT LETTING OBSTACLES GET IN THE WAY. UNABLE TO FIND ENOUGH MUSICIANS ON A LOCAL BASIS TO ASSIST WITH HIS MUSIC PROJECT, TAMBERELLI TURNED TO THE INTERNET TO FIND SINGER CHRIS CATTON (DENMARK) AND TO HIRE SESSION MUSICIANS SINGER RAPHAEL GALAZ (BRAZIL), DRUMMER MIKE VECCHIONE (USA) AND KEYBOARDIST MARCO GNOATTO (ARGENTINA). THE END RESULT IS ARMAGEDDON ROXX’S DEBUT SELF-TITLED EP WHICH WILL INSTANTLY TAKE YOU BACK TO THAT MAGICAL ’80S ERA ON THE STRENGTH OF SUCH STANDOUT TRACKS AS “TIME BOMB BLONDE” AND “INVISIBLE.”

Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on your debut EP. How long did it take you to get the EP done from start to finish?

Sam Tamberelli: It took around, I guess, three years total. I started in the summer of 2013. I had just finished high school and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my spare time during the summer at the time. I had one demo recorded — which was “Heartbreaker” at the time — and I was still talking to Chris Catton about working on some other songs and stuff, and he was kind of going to work with his schedule and see what we could do. Started from there really writing more guitar riffs and stuff, and trying to come up with enough material for hopefully an EP. I also wanted to something a little more significant as far as fundraising goes because I never really had the opportunity to do it. So I figured you know, maybe put this together, try to raise some money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which I ended up picking. Yeah, after a bunch of riffs and demos, going through a few different musicians to see who would be the best fit for the project — who had the most time — trying to find the right people. I wasn’t as successful as I was hoping it to be. Some people tried but just didn’t have the time to put into this.

So I ended up hiring musicians to play on it.  Once I had some really solid ideas, I started sending it out to these studio musicians, which I ended up picking. I said basically “Just go ahead and do whatever you want.”  I gave them a lot of freedom to play the way they wanted to and play stuff that they felt for each song. As a result, we got what’s on the final take and that’s what they felt fit best. And I was really pleased with it after. You know, the three years of work that went into it was I would say worth it because I was really careful and I didn’t out anything out, didn’t put anything out that I wasn’t completely satisfied with. I made sure that I spent time on it first. The coolest thing I think is that it’s kind of a project that comes out of nothing because in 2013, I really wasn’t much of a guitar player. Like I had played guitar for a long time but never really took it serious enough to start writing and recording music. I didn’t know anything about recording music. I hadn’t even written a song. “Heartbreaker” was the first song that I had ever written music for. A handful of guitar chords… I was just really passionate I just really wanted to write music. This is really my first stint with music. I think it’s a pretty good start. But yeah, I’d say that’s a brief overview of the last three years I would say. 

Sleaze Roxx: Cool. There’s lots to touch on. First of all, how did you hook up with Chris Catton because it sounds to me that you were already in touch with him at the beginning of the project?

Sam Tamberelli: Yeah, it’s kind of a cool story. We’re both really big fans of De La Cruz — you might know them.

Sleaze Roxx: Yes.

Sam Tamberelli: They were an ’80s influenced type band that came out around 2011, around 2010. I was just on YouTube one day and I was going through some of the comments under one of their videos. I thin there was something going on where he was commenting on the video with somebody else. I just randomly decided to check out his videos and see what he had. He had some vocal covers. He had a Billy Idol cover. 

Chris Catton singing Billy Idol‘s “White Wedding”:

Chris Catton – White Wedding (vocal cover)

Vocal cover of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. All vocals recorded and mixed by Chris Catton. Backing track: http://www.karaoke-version.com/custombackingtrack/billy-idol/white-wedding.html

Sam Tamberelli: He had a few other ones on there. I sent him a message stating that I liked what he was working on and what he had posted on YouTube. I told him that I had some demos. Well, it wasn’t even “Heartbreaker.” It was just a demo. It had some drums on it. It was extremely rough. It wasn’t really recorded probably. And he loved the idea. He started writing lyrics for me because I wasn’t really confident enough in lyric writing. And then, that pretty much went on from there. We did “Heartbreaker” first and had a pretty good demo of it. “Time Bomb Blonde” — we worked on it together as well. Again, I wasn’t too good with certain things like lyrics and melodies so he would kind of take that on. And then, when I got confident enough for. I did “Time Bomb Blonde.” I did the lyrics for it first. That was really the first song that I did lyrics for in its entirety. So we were just throwing ideas back and forth at each other. I think around 2012 is when we started working together at first.

Armageddon Roxx‘s “Time Bomb Blonde” song:

Armageddon Roxx- Time Bomb Blonde by Sam Tamberelli

Sam Tamberelli-Guitar Christopher Catton- Vocals Dylan Godfrey- Bass Mike Vecchione- Drums Mixed and mastered by Chris Tondreau @ Green Room Recording studio (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Sleaze Roxx: Of course, the particularity for Chris [Catton] is that he is based in Denmark right?

Sam Tamberelli: Yeah.

Sleaze Roxx: So, have you guys ever met before?

Sam Tamberelli: Uh no, we have not actually. We skyped once I think. That’s about it though. I think maybe — I think just skyped once. Every other time, we talked. We keep in touch quite often. We connect with each other through Messenger — the instant messages on Facebook. That’s about it.

Sleaze Roxx: Actually, that’s one of the cool things about your EP is that the other band members except for Dylan Godfrey are all from all over the world.

Sam Tamberelli: That’s right. That’s really unique. It boggles my mind too because I was able to put this together and have all their music on here but most of them, I’ve never really talked to at all aside from like e-mails. So yeah, it’s definitely unique. It’s kind of interesting to think how it would sound different if we were in the same room together. Would it vary at all? If stylistically, it would change? I met Dylan before, I saw him play live once and talked to him briefly after one of his performances. But for everyone else, I’ve never met them in person.

Sleaze Roxx: That’s really neat. And how did you decide at one point that you are going to hire studio musicians or session musicians to get your project done?

Sam Tamberelli: Well, I had contacted I think two different drummers online — two or three. Bass players are usually pretty scarce. It was really difficult to find people who were just interested in having fun and playing on this project. You know, there’s really no money in it. It’s kind of hard to get people… It was just hard to get people motivated at the time. Sometimes, you have to be at the right place at the right time to find people in local ads and stuff. It’s hard to say. I guess I really wanted to move on it. I really wanted to get more serious and getting better demos together and better songs. It seemed that I was sitting on it for too long. It wasn’t really going anywhere. My whole thing was well, sometimes you have to throw money at something to get it done. That’s just the reality of it. It seems like just the best approach to finalize and get it done because I didn’t want it to become something that I also put on the back burner and never complete as well. I am very driven like that. I like to finish everything I start. So I was like, “You know, no matter how it gets done, whatever you’ve got to do to get it done, you’ve got to do it.” And you can get great work. You certainly can get what you pay for with a session musician.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you find these various other guys?

Sam Tamberelli: All these session musicians?

Sleaze Roxx: Yes. I know how you met Chris [Catton]. Dylan [Godfrey] — you met locally. So what about the others that are playing on the album?

Sam Tamberelli: I used a website called Air Gigs. That’s for everyone to check out as well if you want some of those guys and if you liked what you heard. You can have them on your songs for sure. Raphael [Gazal] and Mike Vecchione — I think they’re both still on Air Gigs too. It’s a very cool website. You can basically just select any category by instrument and then there are different rates for people. It’s very cool. 

Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with the band name Armageddon Roxx?

Sam Tamberelli: I wish there was more of an interesting story. I really do.

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Sam Tamberelli: Basically, I was just going to school one day and I was just kind of throwing words together. One thing that I had to have was those two “XX.” It had to be like “Roxx” or something. It kind of had to bleed ’80s a little bit. I wanted to sound unique. I didn’t want it to regurgitate any other band names or anything. I also wanted a name that kind of sounded like a project name and a little less of a band name. At the time, there were certain names that I came up with but they sounded more like band names if that makes sense. I was throwing words together. It sounded cool. It sounded a little bit unique as well. It didn’t sound like anything else that I heard. After a pretty extensive Google search to make sure that there were no other bands with that name, which I was hoping that there wouldn’t be and there wasn’t, it seemed like a good fit.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you end up choosing the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada to be your charity of choice for some of the proceeds of the EP?

Sam Tamberelli: Well, my Mom sadly passed in February of 2011.

Sleaze Roxx: Sorry to hear that.

Sam Tamberelli: And then I remember at the time, we had it so people could donate to the Heart & Stroke Foundation. If they wanted to donate any money or anything in her memory. It just seemed that it was very relative to what I had experienced. It was a very life changing event for me. So I’ve known a little bit about the organization and what they do and everything. I know that they are very reputable as well. They tell you exactly where each dollar is going and everything. It seemed like something that I could relate to. It was very relative to my life. So yeah, it just clicked. It seemed like a good cause and something that I wanted to raise money for.  

Sleaze Roxx: So, which ones are your favourite songs off the EP?

Sam Tamberelli: I’d probably go with “Time Bomb Blonde” which is very popular and a favourite for a lot of people. “Time Bomb [Blonde],” “Invisible” and “I’ll be Waiting.” If I was going to pick the top three, I’d say it would be those ones.

Armageddon Roxx‘s “Invisible” song:

Armageddon Roxx – Invisible by Sam Tamberelli

Track #2 from the upcoming debut EP.

Sleaze Roxx: What are your plans going forward? You released the EP. You don’t really have a band in the sense that everyone is from all over the world. So what are you plans going forward?

Sam Tamberelli: Plans for now are just to do my best with the CD and trying to let it all set in. Do as much as I can to keep selling this and push it in the right places. I would like to do another radio single this year. Probably one under the Armageddon Roxx thing. I would like to do just a real straight up rock song. Hopefully come up with something catchy but then again, you can’t force it. You kind of just got to let it happen. And then maybe down the road — it could be in two years, three years, I don’t really know — I’d like to do either a part two EP or a full-length disc. But then again, it depends on the timing, where I’m at creatively. ‘Cause I don’t really like to push things. Like a lot of musicians, I just kind of like to let things flow naturally. So If I feel motivated and if I feel creative to write things, I will. And then if I don’t, I just kind of back off a bit. 

Sleaze Roxx: Obviously, it would take quite a bit of work but is there any sort of live gigs that could possibly be in the future?

Sam Tamberelli: I certainly don’t like to rule anything out. It could happen for sure. It has its pros and cons I guess. I guess the only thing really holding me back at this time is time between work and doing other side things with music with other musicians. Right now, really just online. There’s not a whole lot of time to dedicate to it right now. It’s something that’s kind of been a thought. But sure, it’s certainly possible that we could do something.

Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?

Sam Tamberelli: I would like to give a shout out if I could to Löve Razër. Those guys are really cool obviously as you know. They have always been really cool to represent my music and stuff, and tell people about it and say good things. They enjoy listening to it as well which I think is really cool. And they put on a really good live performance. Whenever I see them in the area, I have to go check them out. So I encourage everyone to go check out Löve Razër for sure.

Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your three favorite albums of all-time and why?

Sam Tamberelli: Three favorites [pause]… Number one, and in no particular order, would be De La Cruz — the ‘Street Level’ album. That one because it’s the one album hat really stands out and reminds me of my youth. It reminds me of being a teenager. My favorite songs — I remember when it came out on the EP, it was just on constant repeat all the time. I must have been in the 10th or 11th grade, and that was just my go to music. It was De La Cruz in the morning, De La Cruz after school, De La Cruz before going to bed…

Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]

Sam Tamberelli: It was just all the time! It was just great production. Casey Jones was such a cool guitar player. Amazing style! Too bad he disappeared. 

Sleaze Roxx: You must have been heartbroken when they broke up.

Sam Tamberelli: Yeah. That’s right. It’s too bad. It really is. They were really good writers and it seemed to mix well. I’d say that one [pause]. That’s probably the toughest question you’ve asked so far [long pause]. I’ll go with Dokken’s ‘Back For The Attack’ album.

Sleaze Roxx: I love that one too.

Sam Tamberelli: Yeah, that’s a popular choice for a lot of people. I just love as all the Dokken albums progressively seem to get better and better each time. And especially as the writing goes and the guitars and stuff — the guitar playing. You can really hear from the first album how George [Lynch] continuously got better. The first four were just a real highlight — the guitars and everything — no fillers. Big vocals of course — it just seemed like everybody kept getting better so I would put that one down as  my second. I’ll probably be kicking myself later as I’ll forget something. Let’s go with Ratt’s ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy.’ 

Sleaze Roxx: Cool! And why for that one?

Sam Tamberelli: I think it’s probably my favorite Ratt album and it’s probably one of the big ’80s bands that have influenced me a lot. I like the production on it a lot. Again, no fillers like a lot of their albums, it’s kind of hard to pick one. They wrote a lot of good music. Good guitar sound again. Great guitar solos and stuff. Big rock anthems and everything. Yeah, I’ll say those three for now.